Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.12 (d)
Meet the Author
Her Royal Highness, Princess Michael of Kent
"I always knew that Diane de Poitiers was the mistress of a French king, but I never knew her fascinating, three-in-a-marriage romantic history until reading The Serpent and the Moon by Princess Michael of Kent," says author Dominick Dunne. "The author, who knows a thing or two about palace intrigue herself, writes with style and panache and serves up marvelous details of pageantry, court fashion, furniture, and gossip worthy of the master of the genre, the duc de Saint-Simon."
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent is the younger child of the late Baron Gunther von Reibnitz and his wife, the late Marianne, née Countess Szapary. She was born at Carlsbad in Bohemia on the estate of her maternal grandmother Princess Hedwig Windisch-Graetz. Her Royal Highness descends from ancient European lineage on both sides of her Family. Having lived in Austria, Australia and on her father's farm in Mozambique, the princess moved to London from Vienna to continue her historical studies including the History of the Fine and Decorative Arts. Prior to her marriage, Princess Michael formed her own successful interior design company, Szapar Designs. While in London, she met His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, the first cousin of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The couple married in Vienna in 1978 and have two children, Lord Frederick (25) a classics graduate from Magdalen College, Oxford, who is currently in the middle of a Law degree, and Lady Gabriella Windsor (23) who graduated this year from Brown University, Providence R.I. majoring in Comparative Literature and hopes to become a writer.
Their Royal Highnesses carry out a great number of public and charitable duties and also have the Queen's permission to earn their livelihood. Both speak a number of languages and have commericial interests in many different fields, not least in Russia. They live in an apartment in Kensington Palace and at Nether Lypiatt Manor, their 17th century country house in Gloucestershire.
Her Royal Highness has an abiding love of history and the arts and with such a background, it is not surprising that since her marriage she has written two historical books, both of which were bestsellers and translated worldwide: Crowned in a Far Country: Eight Royal Brides, and Cupid and the King: Five Royal Paramours. Her third book, The Serpent and the Moon: Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King, was published in USA by Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster on 7th September, 2004 and will be published on the 1 November in the United Kingdom.
It was the success of her books that stimulated international interest in Princess Michael to give lectures on her specialist subjects, initially speaking to the French Institute. She served on the Board of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and for the past twelve years has pursued a successful lecture career, speaking on various historical subjects at museums and universities. Her Royal Highness has spoken all over the U.S., principally for charities, and typically undertakes two tours in the U.S. each year in April and October, speaking in about thirty venues each year. Princess Michael has also lectured in other countries including Canada, Argentina, Greece, Austria, Switzerland and Russia, for a variety of charities and national institutions, often at eminent museums and galleries. She has lectured for 'Save Venice' and now lectures for ‘Venetian Heritage' and the English Speaking Union in a number of different cities, as well as the Young Presidents Organization.
Princess Michael's other great love is animals, in particular horses, which she rides and breeds with interest and enthusiasm. The family has two black Labradors, two black sheep, exotic chickens, two vicious Hungarian geese and the Princess's adored Siamese and Burmese cats which travel with her between London and the country house.
Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.
Good To Know
Some outtakes from our interview with Princess Michael:
"When we were children, my mother would make us write about or draw whatever we had experienced on an outing. We were to describe the people we met, their clothes, their surroundings, report their conversations. We did rather stare, but it taught us to look and listen. To this day I think I could draw or describe most of the contents of a room in which I had been a day or two before. This trick was very useful to me when I worked as an interior designer before my marriage. Sadly, I had to abandon this profession, as 26 years ago it was deemed inappropriate for a royal princess. Happily times have changed, and now I could start again."
"My name is not Michael. That is my husband's name. As I was not born an English princess, like any wife I bear my husband's name. (If I had married John Smith I would be Mrs. John Smith.) Americans and even English people find this difficult to understand because of Diana. Actually it was only the media who called her 'Princess Diana.' It was never her real title. But to be called 'The Princess of Wales' was too long and so the media dubbed her 'Princess Diana,' which also sounded more approachable and suited her. I have met two girls in the U.S. who have told me their names were also Michael, so I felt in good company."
"Like every mother I adore my two children, but they say I prefer my animals, especially my cats. I am involved in many charities as patron or president, many involve children, or the arts, hospitals and hospices, and also animals. I am the patron of three animal conservation programs in Africa which I visit as often as I can, about every two years. My charity work is very important to me because I am conscious of the privileges I have in my position, and I can only justify that a little by accepting obligations to help others."
"My other passion is my garden. I love to set out with my basket, gloves and secateurs and do some pruning and cutting, especially in my rose garden. And I like to eat my own fruit as I go along -- cherries, plums, apples, pears, rhubarb (this I cook), all the soft fruits too. I muddled feet and meters when I laid out the soft-fruit cage and it became HUGE. As a result and we have to spend a lot of time making jam with the excess berries. This is forced on our friends, as without a clearance from the Health Department, I cannot give it to my charities for auction or sale (although it is very good as we use no preservatives)."
"I am deeply committed to our charity work in U.K. and do as much as I can, given that we are the only ones in the royal family not to benefit from any expenses either from the government or the palace. My husband and I have always earned our own living and are proud to do so. I am a professional lecturer and love my lecturing career, traveling to so many different cities the world over and meeting such interesting and interested people. I never give lectures in U.K. -- there my public appearances are for charity only."
"When I am tense I do a good gymnastics workout if in London (where my personal trainer delights in torturing me), and when in the country I get on my horse and ride hard. I love to ski and play tennis, but I can live without water sports. I enjoy being alone so I can read or write. Writing is a solitary profession, so one must have a partner who understands that. Mine is the most tolerant, wonderful man on earth."